Of the 15,069 doctors who responded to the poll, 44% said they were burned out, which Medscape defined as a feeling of “long-term, unresolvable job stress that leads to exhaustion and feeling overwhelmed, cynical, detached from the job and lacking a sense of personal accomplishment.”
The survey found higher rates of burnout among female physicians: 50% compared with 39% in men. Women’s greater likelihood to acknowledge psychological problems and their disproportionate share of child care and family responsibilities are among the reasons they might be more likely to report burnout, Dr. Carol Bernstein, a psychiatrist at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Medscape.
The breakdown by sex was similar to Medscape’s findings last year, when 48% of female doctors and 38% of male doctors reported burnout.
The highest rates of burnout were found in specialties such as urology (54%), neurology (53%) and physical medicine and rehabilitation (52%). Physicians in public health and preventive medicine, nephrology and pathology reported burnout at the lowest levels, with about one-third of those respondents saying they felt overwhelmed.
When asked what was driving their stress, doctors cited too many bureaucratic tasks, spending too many hours at work and the computerization of their practice in their responses to Medscape, a division of WebMD.
“The whole digital world in medicine has actually made things worse for physicians,” said Dr. Brunilda Nazario, lead medical director of WebMD.